## Monday, October 18, 2021

### A potential explanation why we don't observe violations of the PSR

A standard puzzle for the opponent of the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) is to explain why we don’t observe objects coming into existence ex nihilo. Here is a thought that I think hasn’t been explored enough. Maybe when an object comes into existence ex nihilo, it is unlikely that the object would end up being spatiotemporally related to things already in existence. In other words, perhaps the typical object coming into existence ex nihilo forms a new universe, not spatiotemporally related with any other universe.

If this is right, then the opponent of the PSR should take multiverse hypotheses very seriously.

That said, such random multiverse hypotheses lead to very compellingly sceptical scenarios.

Dominik Kowalski said...

Maybe when an object comes into existence ex nihilo, it is unlikely that the object would end up being spatiotemporally related to things already in existence.

How would that proposal even work? It requires that a probability can be given to two brute events, namely 1) the coming into existence and 2) the lack of spatial relation. But how could that be reasonably proposed without further explanation?

Alexander R Pruss said...

Actually, one only needs one probability to be given: the conditional probability that when an object comes into existence ex nihilo it gains a spatial relation to some existing object.

Anyway, here's an intuition. When an object x comes into existence in spatial relation to y, then TWO things come into existence ex nihilo: x and an instance of an x-to-y spatial relation. Intuitively, we would expect it to be less likely that two things come into existence together rather than that only one do so.

Though if the arguments here work: http://alexanderpruss.com/papers/PSR-prob.pdf , this doesn't make much sense.

Walter Van den Acker said...

Maybe things don't come into existence ex nihilo because there is no nihilo.

Dominik Kowalski said...

Which doesn't resolve the issue as to what the difference between something and nothing is. An infinite past doesn't explain why the world is the way it is, thus it requires external explanation. A Lewisian extreme modal realism in which everything exists doesn't explain its existence, for that we most have something that exists a se, not ab alia. So even the impossibility of nothing, which I support, doesn't remove the bruteness or requirement for explanation, a point Bede Rundle in "Why is there something rather than nothing?". If existence is brute, but absolute nothingness impossible, then there is still the possibility that one world could just cease, while immediately a new one comes about.

Walter Van den Acker said...

Dominik

I did not say it explains thé issue what thé difference between something and nothing is. But it may explain why, even if they PSR does not hold, we still don't see things coming into existence ex nihilo.

swaggerswaggmann said...

An infinte past do explain it, as each step explain the previous, assuming a explanation is needed. Hint : in reality it is not the case, in qm the question why the atom has or hasn't disintegrated has no response.

Zsolt Nagy said...

Eternal conserved quantities and entities appear to solve very easily this "puzzle" and mystery of there being no observations of spontaneous coming into existence ex nihilo. If energy is truly a conserved quantity and entity and if that's a brute fact of our universe, then the lack of observations about spontaneous coming into existence ex nihilo shouldn't be that "puzzling" in my opinion.